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Black Bear Triathlon - Half Iron Course - Triathlon

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Lehighton, Pennsylvania
United States
CGI Racing
60F / 16C
Total Time = 5h 29m 27s
Overall Rank = 17/170
Age Group = M40-44
Age Group Rank = 5/31
Pre-race routine:

Woke ~4:30 and had breakfast (Ensure, Clif bar, banana and coffee). Sipped on some Gatorade for rest of morning. Left ~5am for the 1hr or so drive from my sister's hous. Picked up packet and got set up in transition area.
Event warmup:

A little swimming to get used to the water and to try to stay warm (air was colder). Also did a short run (back to transition in my wetsuit because I forgot to remove my ring).
  • 36m 1s
  • 1900 meters
  • 01m 54s / 100 meters

I was shivering from the cold waiting for the start and I did not feel comfortable pushing the pace off the line, so I immediately settled into my 'relaxed' race pace and tried to find some feet to latch onto. Eventually settled upon some that appeared to be swimming my speed. And, with a big kick, they were very easy to regain when I did lose them a few times. I was able to ease my effort further in the draft. I did make a 'check' a couple times to see if I wouldn't be better off just swimming on my own, but found with 'normal' effort I was only going to swim at about the same pace (maybe slightly faster, but not enough to make it worth the effort).

Felt fine most of the swim, though I did feel a slight 'twinge' in my left calf after rounding the turn bouy. But I simply relaxed for a second and it was fine--not the first time that's happened to me nor the first time I've easily dealt with it. Didn't really give it a second thought. But when I was about 50m from shore, both my calves completely locked up with cramps--even one hamstring began to spasm. I rolled over on my back and tried to relax to let them pass. Was able to roll back and take a few more strokes, but then they locked up again. Paddled on my back and 'dragged' myself to shore. Was eventually able to get up and begin (slowly) walking to transition.

Am betting actual "swim time" was at least 3min better. Maybe 4. Rated the swim 'Bad' based upon the end result, but it was nearly what I would have rated 'Good'.
What would you do differently?:

Not cramp up? Guessing it was partly due to the cold water, but the fact that this was my first OWS in almost 2 years may have also played a role. That is, I may have just been too 'tense' and helped cause the cramps. Also, ideally I would have pushed a little more off the start and tried to find feet of someone a little faster than me that I could hang onto.
Transition 1
  • 15m 13s

Rank: 170/170 :-)

Yeah, this was interesting. Had several bouts of cramping/relaxing while trying to get my wetsuit off and bike gear on. Spent much of the time rolling around on the wet grass, writhing in pain and shivering uncontrollably from the cold. Definitely considered that my day might be done. Even if I was able to get on my bike, I could not see how running would be feasible. But that was a long way off and I decide to try to see how things would go on the bike. Eventually got everything organized and began slowly walking out transition and up the hill to the mount line.
What would you do differently?:

Oddly, not much. I had little choice on what I did here and am glad I made the decision to press onward.
  • 2h 53m 27s
  • 56 miles
  • 19.32 mile/hr

Took it very easy to start, just trying to lightly spin my legs and make sure I wasn't going to fall off my bike with cramps. Shortly after getting out of the park and onto the main roads, I began to gradually lift my effort toward my intended race pace. Things felt OK, so I just decided to worry about what was going on at the moment and worry about the run later. Had plenty of people to catch on the bike (at least for the first lap or so) to help keep me occupied.

Did have to scrub speed several times as riders were blocking on the left. Hard to be too upset at most of these occurances, though, as they were on some of the faster downhills where the roads were quite rough--especially toward the right side. It would have been unsafe for many to ride those at speed in dry conditions, let alone the wet ones we had. At most, I lost a minute or so. My T1 ordeal made that easier to accept than if I was in full 'competitive' mode.

Toward the end of the ride before getting back into the park, I again eased way back on effort and tried to relax my legs. I had felt the calves tighten a few times during the ride, but never had to use them enough to cause any further cramping episodes.

Drank most of Infinit bottle (900 cal) and parts of 3 water bottles (exchanged twice).
What would you do differently?:

Not much.
Transition 2
  • 02m 42s

Rank: 30/170

Got off the bike carefully and walked down the hill back to transition. The downhill was very tough on my calves and I was having trouble seeing how I was going to be able to run when I was barely able to walk here. But after changing shoes, decided to just head out and see what happened. Wasn't sure if I was about to run 13.1mi or 13.1ft. :-)
What would you do differently?:

  • 1h 42m 4s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 07m 50s  min/mile

I again started easy but, as the calves seemed to cooperate, gradually picked it up toward race pace--probably still kept it a bit on the cautious side for much of the first loop. The calves were definitely the worst on the downhills, but I was able to hold everything together and keep moving. Was able to pick up the effort towards the end of the second loop and finished running well.
What would you do differently?:

Maybe be a little less cautious at the start, but I was too concerned about the calves to attempt that today.
Post race
Warm down:

Made my way back to transition and got some warmer clothes on. Then went to get some food and chat with some other racers, including James (who KILLED the swim with the top split--think he passed me shortly after the turn).

What limited your ability to perform faster:

The cramping, obviously. Whether that was purely a swim fitness issue or something exacerbated by the cold water conditions, I am not sure.

Event comments:

A challenging course. Well run and supported. Will remain one of the races I will always consider doing. Hope they retain all 3 distances.

Last updated: 2013-02-19 12:00 AM
00:36:01 | 1900 meters | 01m 54s / 100meters
Age Group: 11/31
Overall: 59/170
Performance: Bad
Suit: Full
Start type: Deep Water Plus: Waves
Water temp: 64F / 18C Current: Low
200M Perf. Below average Remainder: Average
Breathing: Good Drafting: Average
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Good
Time: 15:13
Performance: Bad
Cap removal: Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
02:53:27 | 56 miles | 19.32 mile/hr
Age Group: 3/31
Overall: 8/170
Performance: Good
Wind: Little
Road: Rough  Cadence:
Turns: Average Cornering: Average
Gear changes: Good Hills: Average
Race pace: Hard Drinks: Just right
Time: 02:42
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
01:42:04 | 13.1 miles | 07m 50s  min/mile
Age Group: 4/31
Overall: 16/170
Performance: Good
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2013-05-22 8:28 AM

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Not a Coach
Media, PA
Subject: Black Bear Triathlon - Half Iron Course

2013-05-22 8:47 AM
in reply to: #4752602

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Knoxville area
Subject: RE: Black Bear Triathlon - Half Iron Course
Great race considering the issues!

I had a similar experience in Augusta 2 years ago with my calf cramping out of nowhere towards the end of the swim and bothering me on and off the rest of the day. Never had it happen before or since...

Anyways, great report.
2013-06-01 5:11 PM
in reply to: Leegoocrap

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Subject: RE: Black Bear Triathlon - Half Iron Course
Hey JK. Just getting to read your RR now. Sucks about the cramps. Considering you had an 'off race' you still finished really well on as tough a course as they come. Would bet anything you'd finish with an AG podium had you not cramped in the beginning.
2013-06-02 2:31 PM
in reply to: #4752602

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University Park, MD
Subject: RE: Black Bear Triathlon - Half Iron Course
Calves that are cramping or threatening to cramp are a nightmare in a race, leaving you on a knife edge throughout. Good job on making it through despite that.

I was having similar problems in my races last year. I'd like to say the problem is now fixed, but it's more like the calf problem has moved to the achilles instead, so I'm not sure that this is an improvement.
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